Local veteran to perform monologue on experiences: Project helps explore psychology of war for servicemen

Published 10:01 am Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Brookhaven veteran is preparing to share his story of military service on the big stage as part of the Telling Project. 

Troy Morgan, a two-year resident of Brookhaven, enlisted in the Air Force in November 2003 as an Airman First Class and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Morgan currently works at Brookhaven Sound & Music and teaches guitar lessons.

Starting Aug. 4, he will be among five other veterans and veteran family members sharing their stories with the public.

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The Mississippi Humanities Council is partnering with New Stage Theatre to bring a production of the Telling Project to the Jackson community and surrounding areas. The production, “Telling: Central Mississippi,” will take place in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Standing Together” veterans’ initiative.

The acclaimed Telling Project gives veterans and their family members the opportunity to go on stage to speak about how military service affected their lives.  The performance-based project has brought veterans’ stories to the stage in 28 cities and 14 states and now is coming to the Jackson area.

The Telling Project will take place at New Stage Theatre Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Aug. 9 at 2 p.m. with all stage performances free and open to the public.

Morgan said he found out about the Telling Project through his involvement with Wounded Warriors of Mississippi, a local non-profit working out of Brandon.  He said that after someone telling him about the project he went online and watched Youtube videos of other veterans’ performances.

“It’s really huge. The gist of it is to create an open dialogue with the public,” Morgan said.

He said he saw the project as another way to grow and make sense of one of the toughest decision of his life. Morgan decided to enlist when he was 20 years old — which turned into him serving eight years, seven months and three days. While enlisted he worked primarily as an entomologist, a scientist who studies insects.

“It’s really humbling going through the process,” Morgan said.”It’s amazing how they’ve captured [the stories].”

Morgan said most all of America’s recent military conflicts are represented as part of the project.

The project’s goals are to ease veterans’ transitions back into civilian life, to allow communities to benefit from the skills and experiences the veterans bring home, and to foster a level of understanding that will deepen a community’s connection to its veterans, to itself, and to its place in the nation and the world.

“It’s a really unique way for people to come to the table and say thank you for the work you’ve done,” Morgan said.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Mississippi Humanities Council and working with these veterans to help tell their stories here at New Stage. The experiences that these veterans are willing to share with us are deeply moving, and we hope that the Jackson community will be able to hear these accounts and have a greater appreciation for their experiences,” said New Stage Theatre Artistic Director Francine Reynolds.

“Telling: Central Mississippi” will feature veterans and veteran family members from the Jackson area. The cast includes veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, one who served in Guam during peacetime, as well as a family member who shares the story of her uncle, a World War II soldier who was killed in action. “Telling: Central Mississippi” is directed by Reynolds with assistance from Kerri Courtney Sanders and New Stage Education Director Chris Roebuck.

“The Telling Project gives us a unique opportunity to understand and celebrate the experiences of our military veterans. These veterans are giving us the extraordinary gift of sharing their stories, it is our responsibility to hear them,” said Mississippi Humanities Council Director Stuart Rockoff.

Each of the participants was interviewed by Telling Project staff member Max Rayneard in early 2015, who turned their interviews into a script for the production. Since then, the cast has been rehearsing with staff at New Stage Theatre in preparation for the Jackson performances. “Telling: Central Mississippi” is sponsored, in part, through a grant from Entergy, Inc.

“I’m just so lucky to be in it,” Morgan said. “I would see it just to get all the information. It’s just so powerful.”

For more information, visit www.newstagetheatre.com or contact New Stage Theatre at 601-948-3533.

For more information about the national Telling Project, visit www.thetellingproject.org.